23rd Jan2016

Naz & Maalik (DVD)

by timbaros

OnSubwayBedford-Stuyvesant is a tough neighborhood to grow up and live in, it’s even tougher if you’re young, black, Muslim and gay.

‘Naz & Maalik’ (Kerwin Johnson Jr. and Curtiss Cook Jr.) are two closeted Muslim teenagers who happen to be in love with each other. Their relationship remains a secret, not just to their families they are very close to, but also because of their religion’s condemnation of homosexuality. But ‘Naz & Maalik’ shows us how both young men go about their daily routine on a Friday afternoon, it’s an afternoon that sees their relationship get tested over a series of events that take place on that day. They sell lottery tickets and saints cards on the streets to passersby to make a bit extra spending money, and then they go to their local mosque for afternoon prayers, where the preacher says a special welcome to any police or FBI who might be in attendance.

A man on the street tries to sell them a gun that interests Maalik who tries to get the guy to bring the price down. They decide to just walk away and not buy the gun. But unbeknownst to them the gun seller was an FBI agent (Bradley Brian Custer) who, along with his partner Sarah Mickell (Annie Grier), start following the young men around. But It’s Mickell who takes more of an interest, she corners them separately and questions them on where they were the night before, and while Maalik tells her that he was with Naz, it’s Naz who lies and tells her he was at another friends house as to not give Mickell an idea that him and Maalik are in a relationship. But the young men just want to be left alone, and to complete their day’s mission of getting a chicken to kill for Maalik’s mom’s birthday.

Inspired by true events, ‘Naz & Maalik’ poignantly tells what it’s like to be an outsider within your own community, a community that has been under constant surveillance since 9/11. And at it’s center is a well-acted film by it’s two lead stars. Writer and Director Jay Dockendorf interviewed Muslims, including closeted gays, to get a realistic point of view. It’s an impressive first feature from Dockendorf.
VOD / DVD release on January 26 via Wolfe Video. See below to buy.

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23rd Jan2016

Legend (DVD)

by timbaros

91H3V80JltL._SL1500_Tom Hardy is excellent as both the Kray Brothers in the mediocre film ‘Legend’.

‘Legend’ is mediocre because in the way the story is told. It is narrated by Frances Shea, the dead wife of Reginald ‘Reggie’ Kray. She committed suicide at the age of 24, too young to die but it’s a plot device that doesn’t quite work as she’s telling the story from beyond the grave.

Tom Hardy does indeed play both Kray Brothers. He’s Reggie, confident, goodlooking, extreme extrovert, who always gets the girl. He’s also Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Kray, the not-so-goodlooking, introvert, schizophrenic brother, who was also gay. It’s Reggie who seems to hold all the cards and makes most of the most decisions for the brothers, and Hardy goes all out in playing both of these characters. When tough, he’s Reggie, when a bit soft, he’s Ronnie, and when he’s playing either one he’s excellent.

‘Legend’ is based on the book ‘The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins’ by John Pearson. The brothers sure did rise, ruling over East London during the 1960’s, ordering killings during the day and then going over to mum’s house for dinner the same evening. They also ran clubs and protection rackets.

‘Legend’ is a slick retelling of the brothers story. Written by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential and Mystic River), the film primarily focuses on Reggie Kray’s relationship with Shea (played a bit overdramatically by Emily Browning), yet downplays any real relationship that Ronnie was involved in. Sure, he had male hangers-on who were presumably with him for his money and power (definitely not for his looks), but it’s all about Reggie and Shea. Their relationship was true love, and while Shea was very young when she started dating Reggie, at age 16, and then they got married when she was 22, and as played by Browning, not everything was right with her mind. Hardy is excellent as both brothers (Hardy has yet to give a bad performance, just this past year he was in ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ and ‘Child 44’ and last year was his best performance to date, as the only character in the film ‘Locke,’ – it’s a must see). But it’s also a bit distracting watching him play both roles, especially when in scenes together. I kept on looking for irregularities, yet it was a bit obvious that doubles were used, especially in the fight scenes. Anyway, the brothers were imprisoned in 1969 for their long laundry list of murders, which is when their reign of terror ended. Legend was supposed to have been released on October 2 but the film studio felt that that weekend was ‘bulked up’ with too many guy pics; 20th Century Fox’s ‘The Martian’ and Sony’s Imax-fueled ‘The Walk’. So ‘Legend is now available on DVD.

Legend [DVD] [2015] (DVD)

Starring: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning
Rating: Suitable for 18 years and over

Brian Helgeland writes and directs this crime thriller starring Tom Hardy in the dual role of infamous gangster twins Ronald and Reginald Kray. The film chronicles the Kray twins' career during the 1950s and '60s as they tighten their tyrannical rule over London. With Ronnie's mental stability in question Reggie attempts to keep him under control while embarking on a romance with the beautiful Frances Shea (Emily Browning). Meanwhile, Detective Superintendent Leonard 'Nipper' Read (Christopher Eccleston) tries to bring the Krays down. The cast also includes David Thewlis, Colin Morgan, Taron Egerton and Tara Fitzgerald.
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